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September 19, 2023
Winning and keeping customers today takes more than delivering value at individual touchpoints. It requires building a connected customer experience from end to end. Every touchpoint is essential, but what’s most important is how each touchpoint works together in context with the others.
According to McKinsey, delivering these consistent, informed experiences from start to finish can create a distinct competitive advantage that results in higher customer satisfaction, more sales, stronger retention, reduced service cost, and higher employee satisfaction.
However, even a simple buyer journey today is more complex and involves more touchpoints than ever before. So, architecting a connected end-to-end experience is a challenge. That’s why the Customer 360 is such a coveted tool. It brings every customer touchpoint together so you can understand the entire journey and deliver personalized customer experiences at every step. Personalization, notably, is becoming more important everyday.
While often considered a tool for marketing teams, the utility of a customer 360 extends well beyond marketing use cases. Teams business-wide can use the customer 360 to drive efficiency and improve business outcomes. In this post, we’ll briefly overview Customer 360 and its benefits. Then, we’ll detail how companies in different industries use Customer 360 to set themselves apart. Finally, we’ll examine how a customer 360 gives every team a single source of truth for using customer data to drive better outcomes.
Understanding Customer 360
A Customer 360, or 360-degree view of the customer, is a data product that combines customer information from various data sources and customer interactions to create a comprehensive, unified view of every available data point for every individual customer. Technically, it manifests as a table in the data warehouse with one row per customer and columns for every customer attribute.
Creating a customer 360 is a difficult challenge. According to a Gartner report from 2022, only 14% of companies have achieved it, while 82% of those that have not still aspire to the goal. That’s because building a customer 360 is, at bottom, a data problem that involves several unique technical challenges. We detail these in Why it’s Hard to Build a 360-Degree View of Your Customer. We also built RudderStack Profiles, our Customer 360 solution, to address them in an elegant tool made just for data teams.
While challenging to build and maintain, the power of an actionable customer 360 is undeniable. We’ve talked to customers making massive investments in these projects:
- $40 million annual budget dedicated to solving identity resolution
- $30 million and five years dedicated to building a customer journey map
- Three years committed to building a customer 360 view
These investments point to high expectations, so let’s look at the benefits a customer 360 can provide that drive expectations for these projects so high.
Benefits of Customer 360
A customer 360 allows you to build strong customer relationships at scale. While customer relationships look different in the digital age, the fundamentals haven’t changed. Relationships are built on knowledge and engagement.
A customer 360 facilitates knowledge by centralizing and unifying the information (customer data) required to know customers. It facilitates engagement by making customer profiles available in an accessible format for downstream use by various teams and systems.
With a customer 360, you can deliver every bit of relevant customer data to the right people, in the right places, at the right time to craft the connected end-to-end customer experiences that cultivate strong relationships. This drives many benefits:
- Optimized customer acquisition and revenue growth – A comprehensive source of truth enables the teams at the forefront of growth to move faster and make better decisions to increase conversions and drive revenue.
- Personalized customer experience – A customer 360 enables every team with direct customer touchpoints to personalize their engagements based on accurate, up-to-date information. Notably, because the customer 360 eliminates data silos, it helps companies eliminate experiences where the ‘left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.’
- Increased operational efficiency – A fragmented customer data landscape leads to redundancy, inefficiencies, and wasted resources. Because a customer 360 eliminates data silos, makes data accessible, and serves it in an activation-ready format, companies can streamline or automate data flows for critical uses. The Wyze data team increased productivity by 10x with their customer 360 solution.
- Improved customer loyalty and retention – With access to richer customer information, the teams responsible for driving LTV higher can coordinate efforts to drive loyalty, retention, and expansion.
The benefits of Customer 360 aren’t limited to any one industry, but applications do look different from industry to industry.
How different industries leverage Customer 360
Here, we’ll look at examples from seven different industries to see how a customer 360 can be used to enhance the customer experience.
Retail industry: Revolutionizing the shopping experience
A customer 360 enables retailers to build exceptional shopping experiences that span every digital property and every physical property. With a unified, single source of truth, retailers can enhance the in-store experience for their shoppers and capture valuable data points in-store to further personalize the digital experience.
eCommerce industry: Redefining online shopping
Winners in eCommerce today are masters of sophisticated targeting and personalization. With more noise, higher consumer expectations, and stronger competition than ever, basic tactics no longer work. To reach new customers and encourage repeat purchases from existing customers, today’s leading eCommerce brands use Customer 360 to personalize every piece of the customer experience. Advanced audience segmentation allows marketing teams to optimize their ad spend, and full customer context enables them to deliver relevant, hyper-personalized messages at every point along the buyer journey. Product teams can incorporate advanced recommendations into the user experience. Customer support teams can even trigger actions and personalize the support experience using Customer 360 data.
Healthcare industry: Prioritizing patient-centric approaches
Healthcare organizations have a lot to navigate when it comes to leveraging data to drive innovation and improve patient care. HIPAA-compliant Customer 360 solutions enable Healthcare and HealthTech companies to collect and unify data from healthcare practitioners, business units, and patients to increase patient quality of care and provide a consistent, tailored experience. HealthMatch used RudderStack to scale personalized, cross-channel patient communications based on health data that matches to clinical trial requirements.
FinTech industry: Elevating financial solutions
Banks and Fintech companies can leverage a customer 360 to attract new customers and to provide the enhanced customer experiences that drive customer LTV up. With the in-depth client understanding delivered by a customer 360, banks can offer bespoke financial products, from loan offers to credit card deals. They can use customer 360 data to send targeted offers and promotions and even anticipate financial needs based on customer behavior. Banks can also use Customer 360 data in tandem with Machine Learning capabilities to deliver advanced fraud detection.
Travel industry: Crafting memorable journeys
Every traveler seeks a unique experience. A customer 360 allows travel and hospitality companies to ensure just that. From proposing tailor-made travel packages to ensuring a guest's hotel stay is unforgettable, personalization is paramount. Marketing initiatives in this sector have become more dynamic, targeting individuals with exclusive offers, travel tips tailored to their preferences, and even predictive bookings during peak seasons. Guest experience expectations are also increasing. With a customer 360, companies can integrate exceptional in-person service with outstanding digital experiences to deliver unforgettable trips. Loveholidays, a UK-based online travel agency, uses RudderStack to deliver sophisticated, real-time personalization.
Media industry: Boosting content engagement
Effective customer 360 implementations have revolutionized how content gets produced, selected, and distributed in the media sector. A single customer view allows media companies to understand user behavior across every platform to build comprehensive audience engagement strategies. News and entertainment companies use customer 360s to provide personalized content recommendations that increase user engagement and viewing time. They can also maximize ad efficacy and ROI through precise ad targeting based on thorough viewer data. But a customer 360 doesn’t just enhance strategies around existing content. It allows media companies to perform advanced analytics to tailor future content development to their audience's preferences.
Every team can leverage the Customer 360
While the customer 360 is traditionally thought of as a tool for marketing and sales teams, its value extends to every part of the business. That’s one reason we believe the data warehouse should be the foundation of the customer data platform. Customer data is a company’s most valuable asset, so it shouldn’t be confined to any one tool or one team. Because when you give every team access to complete customer profiles in the tools they use every day, every team can move the needle. Here’s how various teams can utilize a customer 360 to drive better business outcomes.
Data analytics team
Analytics lay the foundation for powerful activations across the data stack, but you can only produce quality analytics with good data. Richer, more accurate inputs lead to better analysis and more powerful activation.
With all of your company's data, including traffic data from your websites and apps, centralized and unified in a customer 360, you can build efficient analytics on large, diverse, high-quality datasets to answer questions that siloed analytics tools cannot answer on their own
There’s this huge movement going on, that’s been enabled by cloud data warehouses, to invest in centralizing, validating, cleaning, and joining customer data. As an analysis tool, data is our input, our grist for the mill, so the better, richer, and more trusted the data we have for input, the more value we can create.
—Neil Rahilly, VP of Product and Design at Mixpanel
With a complete customer view, you can create trustworthy business reporting to answer top-level questions relating to what happened and drill down into every next question to discover how and why things happened. Combine this richer understanding with ML capabilities, and you can move from descriptive analytics to predictive analytics, unlocking a new world of innovative capabilities.
Customer profiles enable you to build accurate and robust user journeys that paint the picture in full color, allowing you to answer complex questions.
Marketing is perhaps the most data-hungry business unit of all – and for good reason. With incomplete or bad data, marketing budget gets wasted on inefficient campaigns at best and totally off-target campaigns at worst.
But when you arm marketing with a customer 360, they can truly understand and respond to the customer. They can optimize marketing campaigns across every channel, from social media to email, and enable previously out-of-reach use cases:
- Improved ad targeting
- Advanced personalization
- Better segmentation for more sophisticated nurturing
- More effective messaging
When you give your sales team access to rich customer profiles in their customer relationship management tool, they can close more deals faster. First, customer profiles enable detailed lead scoring to help sales understand which accounts are ready to buy. This allows them to focus their efforts for maximum productivity. The granularity of the information available also enables them to go beyond the account level and gain insight into which individuals at those accounts they should target and when. After identifying leads for outreach, customer profiles enable salespeople to communicate more effectively with every lead. With every bit of relevant customer information from the warehouse readily available in the CRM, sellers can have more productive conversations and close deals faster.
Detailed information from profiles also allows sales teams to identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling that might otherwise be left on the table.
Customer Support team
Customer support and customer success teams can leverage the data from customer profiles to increase retention. Customers don’t always share every issue with their vendors. Sometimes churn can come out of nowhere because of hidden dissatisfaction. Your CS team can combat this by identifying signals that might indicate churn risk and creating account health scores, allowing them to proactively engage their accounts to address underlying issues. CS teams can also utilize data from customer profiles to identify accounts that are primed for expansion.
With a customer 360, your product team can integrate personalization into the product experience to increase engagement, encourage feature adoption, and drive high-value conversions. Plus, the detailed customer journey analytics enabled by Customer 360 provide unique value to product teams, allowing them to do granular analysis to understand how users use their products and pinpoint friction points. Companies like Apple continually adapt their products based on comprehensive customer data, whether it’s refining the user interface or introducing desired features, ensuring their offerings remain market leaders.
Data Science team
Data from complete customer profiles allows your data science team to build new innovative capabilities. The sophisticated and creative nature of these applications means they have the power to drive transformative change and establish wide moats against the competition. Data from customer profiles can fuel machine learning models for:
- Recommendation engines
- Churn prediction algorithms
- Fraud detection
- Advanced lead scoring
In the age of the attention economy, brands must depend on customer data to craft connected end-to-end experiences to stand out as signal among noise. Basic tactics and fragmented data ecosystems no longer provide lift.
Success requires a thoughtful approach to the entire data activation lifecycle, founded upon an accurate, accessible 360-degree view of the customer. The customer profiles from this Customer 360 give companies in every industry a competitive edge, and every team can use them to drive value. Check out RudderStack Profiles to learn how you can build a customer 360 on your data warehouse to empower every team with a single source of truth.
Product Marketing Manager